Americans love meat. To meet this huge demand, meat-processing plants have remained open the past few months.
And while this may have meant an increase of jobs for reefer drivers, many meat-processing locations have not followed CDC recommendations. As a result, factories across the nation are reporting an alarming rate of COVID-19 cases.
For example, Tyson has over 4,580 sick employees that all tested positive for the coronavirus. Taking this into consideration, many truckers are rightfully leery about taking on hauls issued from these infected hotspots.
What Tyson is Doing in Response
To incentivize truckers, Tysonis offering a new $1000 bonus. This cash fund is not issued in a lump sum. Rather, $500 is to be paid out in May and the other half is to be released later on in July. This division of bonuses is likely meant to keep drivers working.
According to a Tyson spokesperson,truck drivers may not be eligible for the incentive if they are unable to maintain attendance requirements, again stressing the importance to Tyson of having enough truck drivers.
Tyson did say, however, that drivers who are ill or have childcare issues will still qualify. In total, Tyson estimates a payout of roughly $120 million.
Despite outbreaks, Tyson is determined to keep meat going out and profits coming in. Many meat-processing factories are planning on shutting down, due to their liability as COVID-19 hotspots, but American consumers still demand their pork, beef, and chicken. And they need truck drivers to get it.
Should Truckers Keep Accepting Meat Hauls?
With available hauls running a bit low these days, truckers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Take on higher-risk freight or potentially lose income.
With many meat-processing plants closing for a few weeks, the price of animal-based protein is likely to inflate a great deal. For example,in April, the average dollar per pound rose roughly 8% compared to rates this time last year. After the factories close and meat becomes more scarce, meat prices may rise up to 20% according to Farm Credit System.
If scarcity raises demands, higher rates and future bonuses may become available to truck drivers. We recommend that all drivers evaluate the hauls available and carefully weigh the risk/reward of each job.